Students violently arrested by riot police at university Pride parade in Turkey

Riot police form a blockade around the Pride parade at Boğaziçi University, Turkey

A Pride parade at Boğaziçi University, Turkey, was violently broken up by authorities, with dozens of students arrested by riot police.

LGBTQ+ people face increasing persecution in Turkey, and in 2015, Instanbul Pride was banned for the first time.

Following a failed coup attempt in 2016, Turkey declared a state of emergency, which was used by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ban all LGBTQ+ rights related events in 2017 under the pretext of providing “peace and security”.

But on Friday (20 May), students at Boğaziçi University, one of the country’s top public universities, went ahead and organised their ninth annual Pride parade.

The event was organised by Boğaziçi University LGBTIA+ Studies Club (BÜLGBTİA+), which is no longer an official society having been disbanded by university officials last year.

The students waved Pride flags and called for tolerance, while marching towards the former BÜLGBTİA+ club room, but university security immediately descended on the event, and were quickly joined by riot police.

The parade was surrounded by police, who formed a blockade with shields and riot gear and handcuffed the students one by one, slamming multiple participants headfirst into the side of a police bus.

Riot police form a blockade around the Pride parade at Boğaziçi University, Turkey

Riot police formed a blockade around the Pride parade at Boğaziçi University, Turkey. (Twitter/ unikuir)

According to ÜniKuir, an LGBTQ+ students organisation in Turkey, 70 students were arrested at the Pride parade.

Reacting to video footage of the violent arrests, Amnesty Turkey said: “Those who participated in the ninth Pride March at Boğaziçi University faced with unlawful use of force by the police.

“The footage we have analysed shows a police officer hitting someone’s head against the police bus.”

ILGA Europe added: “We condemn the violent crackdown on Boğaziçi University’s Pride march today which violates LGBTI students’ right to freedom of assembly and expression.

“We call for those detained to be released immediately and authorities to investigate any violence used.”

ÜniKuir reported that the arrested students were taken to Istanbul Vatan Police Headquarters, but were released after their statements had been taken.

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